TasteCamp, our three-day exploration of the wines, beer and food of Quebec, we encountered one of these emerging regions, which has an approximately thirty year history, and an even shorter history with vinifera grapes.
Côtes d’Ardoise and it is still in existence. In 1982, the L’Orpailleur vineyard and winery was founded by four men, two from France and two from Quebec. These men purchased a 20-hectare farm not far from Côtes d’Ardoise and their winery is now the largest in Quebec, producing over 160,000 bottles of wine annually. Currently, there are over 100 wineries in Quebec, though there appears to be some contradictory information online, with a few sources claiming that there are only around 50 or so wineries. Nonetheless, Quebec has a small wine industry which continues to grow each year.
Association des Vignerons du Québec (AVQ) and the newer Vignerons Indépendants du Québec (VIQ). For a small wine industry, to have two such organizations working at cross purposes, may not be beneficial. At TasteCamp, we heard little about these organizations though we did hear about some of the differing opinions of winery owners and winemakers. These organizations should work together to benefit the entire Quebec wine industry, helping its growth.
Vignobles Carone, owned by Anthony Carone. The winery was established in 1997 by Anthony's father and originally grew only hybrid grapes, as that was all that was available. However, his father wanted to experiment with vinifera and starting bringing home grape vines from Italy in his luggage. Would you have ever imagined that anyone in Quebec would grow Italian grapes like Sangiovese and Nebbiolo?
On his blog, Anthony has stated the reason for why he embraces vinifera. "I have always been an advocate that nature will always do a better job of creating new grape varieties than man. Hybrids are a creation of man and while useful in allowing the range of viticulture to be extended where natural varieties might not succeed, by definition this does not produce great wine." He also believes that "Hybrids are like Gerber’s baby food. It was fine for a while, but now the consumer wants and expects more."
The NV Rosso Classico ($18), a blend of Frontenac, Landot Noir, Landal Noir, and Cabernet Severyni, spent about three months in new American oak and has an alcohol content of 12.5%. This wine accounts for about 20% of their production and was a creation of Anthony's father. It was fruity and pleasant, though a bit simple, with a nice element of herbs and spice on the finish and hints of oak. An easy drinking wine, this would be a good burger or pizza wine.
The 2011 Venice Cabernet Severyni ($24), a blend of 90% Cabernet Severyni and 10% Frontenac, has an alcohol content of 13%. Anthony's father planted the Severyni because it reminded him of Barolo. This wine had some volatile acidity and tasted a bit unripe, a strong green aspect to it. The aroma seemed a bit chemical though the taste had more raspberry and spice notes. I would like to have tasted some other vintages to see if this wine was more an exception or not.
The 2010 Venice Pinot Noir ($35), a blend off 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Landot Noir, has an alcohol content of 12.5%. Anthony was the first producer of Pinot Noir in Quebec and loves growing the grape because it is such a challenge. In 2010, he produced about 2500 bottles. He blends in other grapes for more complexity, a greater bouquet and greater fruitiness. I found thus wine to have an interesting nose of herbs and spice, and on the palate those remained prominent, though nice red fruit tastes also came though. It was smooth and pleasant, with moderate complexity. If this were less expensive, I would more strongly recommend it.
The 2009 Double Barrel ($55), a blend of 92% Cabernet Severyni and 8% Sangiovese, has an alcohol content of 14.5% and only 1000 bottles were produced. A special yeast, imported from Italy, is used in fermentation. Its oak aging is more unique in that the wine is first aged in American oak for a year and then it is transferred into French oak for another four months. This wine avoided the negative aspects of the Venice Severyni, and presented lots of compelling fruit flavors up front with spicy edge on its finish. Its tannins were mild and the finish was relatively long and pleasant. This was a good wine, but I think it is pricey for what it delivers compared to similarly priced wines.
To Be Continued...